Team Develops Electron Microscope with 0.5-Å Resolution
David L. Shenkenberg
Although studying how atoms come together to form matter is a central goal of science, it is difficult to study the particles because they measure only about 1 Å. For reference, 500,000 to one million angstroms comprise the width of an average strand of human hair, and the diameter of a DNA helix measures approximately 20 Å.
An electron microscope now has achieved 0.5-Å resolution. It was developed by several national laboratories of the US Department of Energy, by FEI Company in Hillsboro, Ore., and by Corrected Electron Optical Systems GmbH (CEOS) in Heidelberg, Germany, as part of the Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope (TEAM) project.
The researchers employed an FEI Titan scanning transmission electron microscope equipped with CEOS-designed spherical aberration correctors, which improved the stability of the microscope.
The scientists achieved 0.5-Å resolution in both transmission and scanning transmission electron microscopy modes, and they sometimes reached even better resolution using the latter mode. The resolution is the highest ever reached, according to FEI.
By allowing studies of how matter forms, particularly how atoms combine to form matter, and how atoms and matter respond to external factors, the microscope will enable design improvements for numerous purposes, including more efficient energy harvesting, faster and lighter automobiles, and sturdier buildings.
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